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“I’ve been watching The Price Is Right religiously for a decade. When I finally got to compete, I won”

Cherry Ann Gorst snagged a coveted spot on the long-running game show—plus $28,000 USD in cash and prizes

By Cherry Ann Gorst, as told to Maddy Mahoney
“I’ve been watching The Price Is Right religiously for a decade. When I finally got to compete, I won”
Courtesy of Cherry Ann Gorst

I first saw The Price Is Right in 2013, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I needed to fill my days while I was on maternity leave from my job as a teacher’s aide, so I started watching a lot of TV. Soon I was watching the game show every day. I loved that they mixed up the format with different mini-games, and I became invested in seeing who won. There were times when I’d be sitting alone in the living room and would suddenly jump up, clapping, because someone correctly guessed a tricky price.

I wasn’t able to watch it as regularly once I went back to work, but whenever I managed to get home early, I would run straight to the TV to catch an episode. I wished I could experience the show in person one day, even if it just meant sitting in the audience and watching it live.

So, when my husband, Brooks, surprised me with tickets to see the show, I was over the moon. It was August, and we were on a road trip for our 10th wedding anniversary. We’d flown from Toronto to Salt Lake City and then driven to San Francisco and then LA, where we were staying for a week. We actually visited two other shows while we were there: a taping of Jeopardy!, which was very organized, and a taping of America’s Got Talent, which was a bit too hectic for my taste. The set was so loud that I got a headache. Then, one night, my husband told me that he’d managed to snag tickets to The Price Is Right and that we’d be going the very next morning.

My husband, who grew up watching The Price Is Right and is also a fan, had been to a taping once before, in 2015. He said it was best if we got there early to line up. So we arrived at the studio at 8 a.m. The building was pretty nondescript on the outside. It reminded me of a storage centre. After waiting in line for a bit and filling out some forms, we were brought into a big waiting room with TVs playing old episodes of the show.

From there, producers took us out, one at a time, for preliminary interviews. I told them how excited I was to be there. Then I started kidding around with them a bit. I told the woman asking the questions that I was travelling with my ex-boyfriend. She was speechless and gave me this look, like, Why would anyone do that? Then I said, “He is my husband now, so he’s not my boyfriend anymore.” That made everyone laugh. I started dancing around in my seat to celebrate the success of my joke.

At the end of the interview, I saw one of the producers write my name down on a piece of paper. I’d been told that, if they’re considering you as a contestant—if you’re bubbly and you seem natural—they write your name down so they can hold onto it. It felt like a good sign. After that, I was back in the waiting room, where we chatted with the other potential contestants. My husband and I also took a photo at one of the mock podiums.

Cherry Ann Gorst and her husband posing at a mock podium in the waiting room of The Price is Right
Courtesy of Cherry Ann Gorst

After about an hour and a half, the crew came in. They took our phones and walked us into a second building. That’s when we entered the studio, home to The Price Is Right’s vibrant, iconic set. We were ushered into our assigned seats and George Gray, who’s been the announcer since 2011, came and spoke with us. He told us that the set can be very loud. Sometimes people don’t hear when their names are called. So, he said, we can just look to our right, where someone will be holding a sign that says the name of the person who’s been chosen as a contestant.

Then the show started. At first, I was just soaking up the experience and enjoying all the colours and sounds. But, a few rounds in, my husband looks over to me and says, “Honey, they called your name!” George had been right—it was so loud that I hadn’t heard. I looked to my right and, sure enough, saw a poster board with my name written in all caps. My mind went totally blank. I was so excited. I started jumping up and down and high-fiving everyone around me before running up to the stage.

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The first game was One Bid, where four players try to guess the price of a single item. The person to get closest to the real price without going over it wins and gets to move on to play other pricing games. Our item was a shelf used for gardening tools. I heard Brooks yelling out $700 as a guess, so that’s what I said. I ended up winning—the real price was $730.

After that, I got to shake hands with Drew Carey, who took over from Bob Barker as the host in 2007. It felt like a dream. Drew was very nice and down to earth. During the intermission,  he walked through the audience and shook everyone’s hand.

The next game I participated in was One Wrong Price, where they give you three items with prices and you have to guess which one is inaccurate. The items that day were a scooter, a desktop computer and a cast iron skillet. It’s tricky guessing prices these days since everything is getting so much more expensive. One woman had to guess the price of a can of beans, and it was $4.99! It’s also tough to concentrate when everyone is yelling at you. My first instinct was the scooter, but I ended up changing my guess to the computer. It turned out that the scooter was the correct answer after all.

At that point, I assumed that my time as a contestant was over. Honestly, I wasn’t even disappointed. I’d had so much fun being on the show, and I was walking away with a great story to tell my kids and students when I got home—plus the gardening shelf I’d correctly guessed the price of earlier.

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But, when one of the crew members escorted me back into the audience, it wasn’t to the place where I’d been sitting with Brooks. I was beside three other women who’d also been contestants. That’s when it clicked: I’d totally forgotten that I might get picked to participate in the final Showcase. I knew then that I was still in the game.

Eventually, me and the three women sitting beside me were brought back onto the stage, where we were given a chance to spin the wheel. I went first because I was the lowest ranked based on the previous rounds. The wheel has a bunch of values on it ranging from 5 cents to one dollar. The goal is to spin amounts that add up to get you as close as possible to $1 without going over. The wheel didn’t weigh much, but I tried to not push it too hard; I wanted to keep some amount of control. I spun 30 cents on my first try and then 40 cents after that, putting me at 70 cents total. And I won—no one else managed to get that close.

After that, it was down to just two of us. I found myself standing with one other contestant, Lily Dang, for the final Showcase, where they have you guess the values of the two big prizes you’re competing for. I literally couldn’t believe it. Lily and I had actually become friends while we were in the waiting room, so it was nice to be standing there together at the end.

Lily chose to compete for a prize with a car, so I was competing for the second prize, which included a boat, designer jeans and a trip to Palm Springs. I guessed that the total value was $26,500, which ended up being just below the $28,000 value of the prize. Then Lily overshot the value of the car package. Going over the actual price is an automatic loss, which means that I won the Showcase.

Drew called my name, and the cameras zoomed over to me right away. I was stunned—I barely remember it. I managed to give Lily a hug, and when I turned around I saw that Brooks was waiting for me beside the boat. I ran down and gave him a kiss. I told him that, from now on, we’ll always think of The Price Is Right on our anniversary.

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It was an amazing experience. In the end, we couldn’t bring the boat back home, so we cashed out on that part of the prize. We’ll probably just put the money in savings. The rest is going to be delivered to us soon. Winning also means that I’m not allowed to be on the show again for at least ten years, which I’m okay with. It was a once-in-a-lifetime gift.

We had to keep the whole thing secret for months until the show aired on October 13. That part was tough, so it’s been nice to finally tell our friends and family all about it. Now that it’s out, we’ve started planning our anniversary trip for next year—we’re going to go back to LA and see if we can get on Let’s Make a Deal.

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